Peer assist could also be extra helpful to teenagers with anxiousness

New York, January 18

One in three parents strongly support schools having mental health programmes like peer support leaders, a new poll suggests.

The poll indicates that an estimated one in five teenagers has symptoms of a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety and suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens.

But the first person a teen confides in may not always be an adult—they may prefer to talk to another teen.

“Peers may provide valuable support for fellow teens struggling with emotional issues because they can relate to each other,” Sarah Clark from the University of Michigan in the US, said in a statement.

“Some teens may worry that their parents will overreact or not understand what they are going through. Teachers and school counsellors may also have limited time to talk with students in the middle of other responsibilities,” Clark added.

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, three-quarters of parents in a new national poll think peers better understand teen challenges, compared to teachers or counsellors in the school.

The majority also agree that peer support leaders at school would encourage more teens to talk with someone about their mental health problems.

The poll found that 38 per cent believe if their own teen was struggling with a mental health problem, their teen would likely talk to a peer support leader and 41 per cent of parents say it’s possible their teen would take advantage of this option.

Another 21 per cent said it’s unlikely their child would seek support from a peer mentor.

The nationally representative poll report included responses from 1,000 parents of teens aged between 13-18 about their views on programmes like peer support leaders.—IANS

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